Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Own Sun

Here's the truth (you guys know by now that you'll always get it from me) : Most days, I'd even say 5 out of 7, I feel like the biggest farce in the universe. I feel guilty when my kids say things like, "Mom, you are the best mom in the world!" Because I know it isn't true. And I know that one day, they'll know it isn't true. 
The truth is, most days I look around me, at the book bags and the shoes, at the Lala Loopsy toys and the Play-Doh, the inside out underwear and socks, and think to myself, "This is not what I signed up for." Okay, let's be even more honest. I didn't really "sign up" at all. But if I had, it most likely wouldn't have been for this. It wouldn't have been for the mess and the stress and the yelling and the refereeing. Sometimes, a lot of times, I am just so shocked by it all. That I have kids. That I'm a mom. That, roughly 10 years ago, I became the center of a small person's universe. Oh come on, moms, you know what I'm saying. It's not conceited. It's the God honest truth. When I pushed that small person from my body, I became my own sun. His sun. And later, my daughters' sun, as well. Completely equipped with my own gravitational pull, my own orbit. It's a force that I doubt will ever be outgrown. 
A few months ago, I observed a mother with her grown daughters- one in college, one newly married. They were home for a holiday, and I watched. They orbited her. When she wasn't near them, they wandered the house looking for her. When she sat, they sat. When she shifted, they shifted. Their shoulders touched. Their hips. Their heads rested against hers. They were pulled to her, pulled by her. They needed her like they needed the sun. They were little planets, caught up in her path, spinning, spinning around her. 
I haven't really outgrown this innate planet instinct either. My mom lives in Florida now, and even from hundreds of miles away, I feel the pull. I'm always gravitating toward her, longing for that Sunshine State, to be back in that orbit. 
We mothers... That cord we grow, when we grow our babies, it's never completely cut. There's this pulsing thread between us, feeding back and forth. 
I've felt this more and more, as my own children have gotten older. You would think I'd realize it more when they're younger, when they're these little involuntary planets, revolving around me, helpless. But I've never felt that pull stronger than I have over the last year or two, as I've seen them instinctively shift and gravitate and function around me. I remember one time I told a friend how claustrophobic it made me feel sometimes. To be walking through a grocery store, or down a hallway, and to not only see but to FEEL them around me. It's like when you attach an inner tube to a boat. (Or for an occasionally more accurate description, imagine Shir Kahn  in Jungle Book with the torch tied to his tail). I turn a corner and I can feel them float behind me in my wake, a little delayed, maybe a little wider path, but undoubtedly shadowing my every move. 
These invisible cords that still tie them to me, this gravitational pull, this mini galaxy that I'm at the center of, it's wearying sometimes. There's a lot of pressure and little rest. Is this how the sun feels, I wonder? Surrounded by all these planets, no matter where he turns, always someone dependent on his energy, his life force, absorbing him in, breathing him out, NEEDING him? Let them get too far away, and they freeze. Pull them in too close, and they burn up. They must exist with you and without you, all the time. Everyday. Such a fine, tense balance to maintain. 

But oh, isn't it glorious? To be the sun. To be life and light and nourishment. To feel them orbiting around you-  living their own lives, maintaining their own ecosystems, true- but always, always pulled to you. And you hold them. You embrace them in that gravity, you hold tight for dear, dear life, watching them spin and twirl around you, rejoicing as they absorb you. Does the sun need the planets as much as the planets need the sun?
In our case, even more so. 

Exhausting, yes. 
Exhilarating, even more so. 
Worth it, worth it, worth it. 

I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm overwhelmed and underwhelmed, I'm the center of this universe that is the center of MY universe. I'm my own sun. I'm a mother. 

Happy Mother's Day, to all my fellow suns. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Trending Now at the Box House

As my kids are growing more and more, there are things that are popular with them now that, as an elderly mother, I obviously can't comprehend (obvious to them, I mean. Not so much to me). For instance: Justin Bieber. My girls are not the most hardcore Beliebers. We don't know his birthday or his shoe size. But they both agree he must marry one of them. They argue frequently over which one of them it will be. They are 7 and 4, friends. I mean. Really. They don't even know what marriage is. Especially Atleigh. I try to tell them, "Justin is way older than you. The chances of him marrying you are very small." But they won't listen. Of course, no one could talk me out of my Billy Ray Cyrus obsession at their age. That's right. I said Billy Ray Cyrus. People, I had a massive crush. Poster and t-shirt and Some Gave All at the top of your lungs crush. Tell your sister you're never speaking to her again because she said his hair was dumb and drew a mustache and goatee on said poster crush. And I won't lie. If I could find that t-shirt I got on the Christmas I was 9, you better believe I would find a way to wear it today. In fact, on my Kindle the other night, I saw an ad for a Billy Ray autobiography. I immediately had a heart attack. An achy breaky heart attack.

So. Bieber Fever is always on tap at The Box House. But I've gradually worked in some things from my own childhood that my kids are buying into. The Sandlot. "You're killin' me, Smalls!" Little Rascals. "I got a dollar, I got a dollar! I got a dollar, hey hey hey hey!" (These are legitimate things I've overheard my kids saying.) Here's my personal favorite: I Believe I Can Fly. Now, no 90's child worth their salt would miss out on that classic R. Kelly song. One day, my kids came home from school singing it. I don't know why. They can't pinpoint where they heard it. But it immediately became one of Atleigh's favorite songs. I hear her all day through the house, singing under her breath, "I weeeve I can fwyyy. I weeeeve I can touch da kyyyy." (We're still working on her lazy diction.) So, about a week ago, I found Space Jam on the $5 shelf at Target (By the way. Why are all of our generation's movies winding up in the cheapo bin? That's classic stuff right there. They don't put the Baby Boomers' stuff on the $5 shelf!). That was one of those "toss it in the cart don't care whether I have the money or not" instances. I couldn't wait to watch it with the kids. Couldn't wait for Ashton to see Michael Jordan pretend to act. Couldn't wait for Atleigh to put a "face" to her current favorite song. Well, it turns out Ashton watched it the other day while I was at my Bible study and he was confined to his room. I was so disappointed. He loved it, of course. I knew he would. I just wanted to see him love it.

Another thing trending right now: Baseball. Ashton is midway through his little league season, as pitcher for the Mets. I won't lie, folks. It's bad. He's a good player, he really is. But every time we've put him in sports, he's been landed on mediocre (if not downright bad) teams. That's not just biased, proud mama speaking. The kid has talent. But he's easily hyped, easily frustrated, and easily discouraged. So when his team lost big tonight, I had a really distraught 9 year old on my hands. A 9 year old who crawled into my lap and sobbed like he hasn't done in 5 years. What do I say? How do I handle this? All I could do was hug him and pray with him, and try to convince him that he is only 9 and nobody started out perfect when they were 9. I don't think I'm quite cut out to be mother to a kid as high strung as I am. I cried almost as much as he did. Not because he lost. But because he felt like a loser. What mom wants that for her kid?

Also currently big in our house: Les Misérables. You know from previous posts my obsession. I haven't stopped listening to the musical soundtrack since January, when I finished the book. No kidding. At least (at least) twice a week I'm listening to it and singing I Dreamed a Dream, or some other song, at the top of my lungs. So much so that I even heard Chloe, playing on the front porch this evening, humming "On My Own". My heart about burst. Last Friday, I went to see Les Mis (the Broadway tour) with my dad and sister. Amazing. Absolutely enthralling. I found myself, over and over, thanking God for the gifts that He's given to people. I don't care if you're "Christian" or not. Gifts are gifts. And all good things come from Him. So when I heard Jean Valjean sing "Bring Him Home" in that flawless falsetto, all I could do was praise God for it, with goosebumps all along my arms. I felt like Anne Shirley on the day she went to church by herself and saw The Lake of Shining Waters through the window: and she prayed her own prayer, "Thank You for it, God", two or three times, while Marilla said anxiously, "Not out loud, I hope." Well, I may actually have said it out loud. I don't remember. I just remember rarely being so sucked into something in my entire life. I wanted it to go on forever. To sit in that seat and watch the show over and over, and sing along until one of the cast members got laryngitis and they needed an able bodied and able voiced female who knew the play front and back to rise up out of the audience and save the day. That would be me (she said with a mixture of pride and embarrassment). One of these days. Whether it's community theater, or I have to force my entire family to stage the play for me (oh and don't think I haven't already got all their roles picked out. I'm already equipped with my own personal Gavroche and little Cosette).

Maybe the real trend in the Box House lately (and this isn't what I started out writing at all) is that dreams are worthwhile, even when they don't come true. Whether you want to marry your childhood idol, or believe you can fly. Whether you want to pitch the perfect game or sing pitch perfectly the role you feel you're destined to play. God is the author of dreams, great and small. Even a 4 year old can dream big. Even an "elderly" mother can dream big.

What trends are you seeing right now? What dreams are you dreaming? Hold onto them. Dream the dream. Nothing is too big or too small for the One who placed those dreams in your heart.